Daisuki Goes Platinum

Woop! Here it is. The grand finale to the Daisuki Club’s GTS contests, albeit a very delayed one, taking place some eighteenth months after GTS Heracross and Psyduck. The immediate inspiration for this “GTS09” event is not quite clear – perhaps it was designed to (belatedly) celebrate the release of Pokémon Platinum, or intended as a PR stunt to put Daisuki Club in the spotlight. Either way, between March 19 and April 10 2009, the Daisuki Club rehashed their beloved formula of GTS-based Pokémon exchanges between players and staff. As before, official Pokémon carried in-game Mail with set phrases containing five keywords, enterable on the Daisuki Club website to win special prizes.

GTS09 saw a marked upscaling in project ambition. The largest Daisuki GTS event until then, the Magikarp of Love, involved 200 Pokémon given out over two days. Now, 600 Pokémon of three different species were to be distributed over three weeks. Publicity for the event was nothing to scoff at, if not quite on par with Magikarp’s. Yahoo Kids chose not to run an article this time, it seems; however, a mysterious printed leaflet was created and distributed to promote the initiative and thereby support the usual coverage on the Pokémon.jp main website and the Daisuki Club’s dedicated pages. It was, either way, the Club’s biggest-ever GTS undertaking, and great care was taken to smoothen the logistics and player experience.

It’s somewhat ironic, then, that in perfecting the staff-swap formula were contained the seeds of its undoing. To be sure, each preceding GTS distribution had issues uniquely its own. The first “mini Daisuki” event was so modest in scope it had the trappings of a beta test; Magikarp ’07 buckled under technical difficulties, and the Psyduck / Heracross double act was simply the best-worst executed idea. Participants took all these flaws and technical hiccups in their stride, and the prevailing atmosphere was invariably one of general delight. GTS09 by contrast was well-planned and implemented virtually hitchlessly, yet community spoilsports ensured it would leave a sour aftertaste. The format was subsequently abandoned, not to be seen again until very recently in metamorphed, watered-down form.

GTS Exchange Participation Instructions

Capiche?

But we’ll get to that in time. What better place to start our discussion than the official Pokemon.co.jp announcement. The Wayback Machine’s crawler took just a single, well-timed snapshot on March 15 while the page was live. It didn’t pull in the tailor-made supporting art, but count your blessings, I say. As for the content: the article rattled off everything a player needed to know in order to successfully participate. (A machine-translated still is enclosed over side; full content here.) I’m going to assume you’ve got a good grasp of how Daisuki GTS exchanges worked by now (if not, check out my previous articles!), so I’ll just highlight the twist: for once, the Club did not specify the Pokémon to be exchanged upfront. Rather, would-be participants were instructed to solve simple riddles, one for each of three “Mystery Pokémon”, in order to learn what ‘Mon to deposit and, in so doing, compete.

The first such “riddle” was a maze-like visual puzzle featuring Starly, Shinx, and Bidoof. Like all details pertaining to the event, including winner’s application forms, puzzles, riddles, and answers to those brainteasers, the “maze” was published to the Daisuki Club homepage. The content of which, as you may recall from my “mini-Daisuki” article, is lost in its entirety.1 Luckily for us, one prescient individual took scans of the special leaflet that the Daisuki Club created for the event. (See images.)2

As you can see, a motley crew of Pokémon graced its cover, positioned against a starry background and an image of Planet Earth. (Why isn’t there a GTS logo anywhere?!) Keywords like “official” and “nationwide” jump out in bold. The leaflet’s obverse took a few lines to explain the event’s ins-and-outs, showcased the winnable prizes, and… held the first puzzle! Hurrah. We don’t exactly know how this leaflet reached Pokémon fans. It may have been spread by, or at, Japan’s many PokeCenters. CoroCoro Monthly had a recurring item titled “Pokémon DP” (ポケモンDP), so perhaps it was an insert to its February or March 2009 issue. It’s even possible (if unlikely) that the leaflet was mailed out to the homes of all one million-plus Daisuki Club members. No leaflets were sent out for Mystery Pokémon #2 and #3 – those riddles were exclusive to the Daisuki website. (Sign up to participate, kids!)

Right! You’ll want to know how this Layton-esque tricky-yet-straightforward puzzle was solved, of course! The leaflet gave out the following instructions: “に入るポケモンはなに? 交換に出されているポケモンは「?」のポケモンでよ?” Loosely, in English: “What Pokémon goes in the middle? The「?」Pokemon to be exchanged is which?” Below the puzzle, the leaflet provided a “special big hint”: “? に入るポケモンは「たんじゆん」 なポケモンなんだって。” Translating to: “The Pokémon in question is a 「たんじゆん」, or ‘Simple’ Pokémon.”

If that wasn’t enough to clue in would-be participants, the Daisuki website ran three more hints. And these were– Well, we don’t know. Hints 1 and 2 are lost to time. Hint 3 was altered and/or rephrased a few days into the competition for reasons unknown; it said something about a “spiral shape”.3 In telling you about this “spiral” hint, I’ve mostly given away the solution: go counter-clockwise from the bottom-right, alternating between species and working inwards to arrive at Bidoof! (“Simple” is of course Bidoof’s ability!)

In any case, it wouldn’t be a true-to-form Daisuki contest if there wasn’t a competition prize to whet players’ appetites. Or two prizes, to be exact. The first, promised to be awarded to all 600 lucky recipients of oddball, special-ish Bidoof and two Mystery Pokémon we shan’t yet name, was a Pikachu… Strap. Cord. Contraption. A much-needed improvement from the forgettable Valentine Magikarp lanyard, this… Thingamabob featured a cheery image of Pikachu leaping forward in excitement, superimposed on stylised GTS logo. Two small metal Pokeballs were attached. The grand prize, to be given to only five winners, was a Daisuki Club exclusive pearl white Giratina Edition DS Lite. It’s gorgeous. And it would be stupendously rare, if it weren’t for the fact that another 1000 had sold separately a few months earlier. Priced at ¥21600, or ~$200-250, this was a tantalising reward for uploading a bunch of Bidoof!

Right. Having (hopefully) sufficiently scintillated the prospective playerbase, the event officially kicked off March 19.

GTS BIDOOF: MARCH 19-27, 2009

So! Lord Bidoofus. The One True Pokegod. Did you know GTS09 is one of only two official events ever to include Bidoof? (The other being 2008’s Kyocera Dome Bidoof, another Daisuki initiative) I agree. It’s outrageous. His wrath shall be pointed. Like his teeth.

I love the choice of Bidoof as the Pokémon to be exchanged; way to turn the mundane and ordinary into something extraordinary, Daisuki Club! Designing the event to be easily accessible was a legitimate concern for a kid’s fanclub. Bidoof being a Route 201 Pokémon, this element was squared away: whether you had a fresh copy of Platinum or a dusty cartridge of Diamond or Pearl, it was easy to take part. Inversely: the Club’s concept of like-for-like exchange meant that winning players would inevitably also receive back a Bidoof. This contrasted a touch unfavourably with the cornucopia of appealing Pokémon printed on the leaflet’s cover, which created the impression that special Piplup, Monferno or Electivire might be up for grabs. Plain old Bidoof must also have seemed a little wanting in comparison to the nationwide releases of Member Card Darkrai and Flower Paradise Shaymin. A case of unfortunate timing, perhaps.

Either way, in those halcyon days of March 2009, participating Pokefans collaborated to document this latest earthly manifestation of the PokeGod. You might say it was… a Journey of Doofcovery. Why the embarrassing pun, CC? Well, on launch day, nobody had any inkling what an authentic Daisuki Bidoof was to look like. Would they be freshly-caught (or hatched) Lv.5’s dragooned into holding Mail and shoved onto the GTS wantonly? Might they be Hulk-Bidoof candied-up to Lv.100 as some sort of superhero gag? Or would they follow the example set by Valentine Magikarp, and assume a predictable set of characteristics through wondercard generation? Would they be nicknamed or not? Nobody knew.

As always, the 2channel archives offer a window into a bygone era, and it’s truly fascinating to revisit the initial flurry of activity as players worked together to separate Club-Doof from Fan-Doof – a crowdsourced process at which they were remarkably efficient, considering Bidoof’s tiny sample size! It helped that in these early stages, communal intentions were sincere and participation enthusiastic: one poster commented in apparent delight how his Trade Station “Geonet map of Japan [was] full of blue dots.”4 The event saw Bidoof rocket to the top of the pokemon-gts.net exchange rankings. As another messageboarder observed: “[Now that] Bidoof suddenly ranks first… Foreigners must be wondering what is going on.”5

It’s striking how, amidst this general mayhem, 2channel was able to rapidly (and accurately) identify official Bidoof. Poster #279 and operator of this blog had the scoop, sharing in the early hours of March 20 the first image of a seemingly authentic Daisuki he clarified to have the OT Ari (あり).6 No attached Mail was shown in the image,7 but the poster claimed to have successfully input the Mail keywords to the Daisuki website.8 Poster #289 weighed in, saying they also received a Lv.6 Club Bidoof. Met location, met date, met level and current level all matched those specified by the blogger; only the Pokémon’s nature differed. (Lonely for the blogger’s vs. unspecified). This person, too, claimed to have successfully entered the keywords, and for a time it was thought that all Bidoof must be Lv.6 and female (Poster #292).

Other OTN reveals followed soon after. A few hours later, poster #324 wrote of receiving a Male Lv.5 Ori (おり) Bidoof, not nicknamed, holding Air Mail9 that clearly differed from the the (two) Ari Bidoof seen until then. Posters #328 and #329 recognised the name “Ori”, identifying him as a real-life Daisuki staff member.10 Further revelations followed thick and fast. Around 4PM, as reports of a Saori (さおり) Bidoof rolled in, poster #334 concluded that there must be multiple OTNs. As it was, Saori Bidoof looked to be Lv.7 holding Heart Mail (#358), and the conclusion was drawn that for all authentic Daisuki Bisoof, their met level must be five, while their current level varied by OTN. Reports of a Norii (ノリイ), Lv.8, holding Heart Mail, surfaced on Saturday morning. In just over 24 hours, then, all four Bidoof variants had been successfully identified. Their OTNs were known, TIDs were known; met level, current level, met date and gender all documented. For good measure, poster #397 shared the keyword template of the Mail attached to their Club Bidoof, closing out much of the speculation.

…Which was just as well, because from the weekend onwards, for-laughs participation increased greatly, with folks putting their creative energy into swapping Bidoof with (comical and sometimes questionable) Mail while Daisuki staff enjoyed their weekend off not – or only lightly – trading. Some players approached the event with a Valentine-Karp spirit, and simply looked to exchange delightful and uplifting messages. Others, uh… Take the (machine-translated) image over side, for example. You get the gist. I don’t know to laugh or express great concern about this 2channeler’s wily wordsmithing. I’m somewhat uncomfortable showcasing this particular Mail here, but it serves a purpose illustrating the Mail-based GTS-exchange format’s challenges borne of human folly. Either way, such penmanship – eyebrow-raising or not – wasn’t an impediment to players looking to nab a Club Bidoof, and throughout the event’s second week, participants continued to share their humourous homebrewed and/or received Mail to 2channel. Many more reports of authentic Bidoof came in, and the atmosphere appeared quite jolly and amicable.11

After a week of exchanges, the Daisuki Club published Bidoof-identifying data to their website in the early evening of March 27. It’s not quite clear how this information was presented – it may have been a diagram, or a simple bullet point list. If we assume this weblog copied the information under items ① and ② verbatim, then the amount of detail was quite revealing, stating as it did:

①おやの名前・IDNo.
あり [Ari]:62475
おり [Ori]:02730
さおり [Saori]:27471
ノリィ [Norii]:08348

②その他の情報
・トレーナーメモ:
だいすきクラブで
Lv.?のときに
うんめいてきな
であいをした ようだ。
・持ち物はメール
・性別、レベル、性格はランダム

As it was, this fellow’s personal weblog was one of few fansites to write about GTS Bidoof, and one of fewer still (alongside Balto’s) to also cover Mystery Pokémon #2 and #3 in real-time. Balto, as we touched on previously, revelled in getting an authentic Ari Daisuki ‘Doof. This lad (or lass) was jubilant too, triumphant in winning a Saori Bidoof. But, frankly, that’s about it. Valentine Magikarp left traces all over the internet, but the web stayed puzzlingly quiet about GTS Bidoof, even though it benefited from a triple announcement that included a printed leaflet (and should have been a huge deal). Even the Korean blog that had written so passionately about Magikarp paid GTS09 no mind, perhaps because the distribution window fell between more exciting happenings such as the release of Members Card Darkrai, the reveals of Oak’s Letter Shaymin and Spiky-Eared “Shokotan” Pichu, and even the official unveiling of that rival PokeGod, Arceus.

Whatever the case, players weren’t afforded much time to gather their thoughts and reflect on their GTS Bidoof experiences, for Mystery Pokémon #2 awaited: Shinx!

GTS SHINX: MARCH 28 – APRIL 3, 2009

Mystery Pokémon #2. Which might it be? A “Pokémon that even small children and beginners can easily catch”?12 Probably. How about Starly, then, which appeared alongside Bidoof in the first visual puzzle? Or the maze’s Shinx? Posters #340, #343, #930 and #937 in Daisuki Thread 34, to highlight a few, certainly considered these the frontrunners. And yet – recycling the same puzzle would be too simple, others observed.13 Another agreed, and crossed his fingers it might be Budew.14

March 28 saw the Daisuki Club post a participation riddle to its website, bringing the fun-tastic speculation to an end. It wasn’t a maze this time – rather, the brainteaser took the form of a classic “which statements are true / false”-problem. One user likened it to a typical question from a “civil service beginner’s exam”. Now doesn’t that sound exciting? Uh-huh.

The riddle was discussed at length on 2channel, which had switched over to a dedicated Daisuki event thread.15 It appears three total statements were provided, attributed to each of Ori, Saori, and Shin, a comparatively unknown staff member. Which two statements were false, and which was true? Sadly, only the riddle hints survive, devised to help a younger audience crack it. They were as follows, copied directly from the Daisuki website by Poster #335 in GTS Thread #1 and provided to us verbatim.16

ヒント1:こうかんされるポケモンは、ピンチになるとからだがかがやくんだって。
ヒント2:「さおり」はウソをついてるぞ!
ヒント3:こうかんされるポケモンは「でんき」タイプなんだって。
ヒント4:「シン」はうそをついてるぞ!

These translate loosely to:
Hint 1: When in trouble, these Pokémon shine.
Hint 2: Saori is lying!
Hint 3: The Pokémon in question are Electric-type.
Hint 4: Shin is lying!

By elimination, only Ori’s statement (whatever it was) could have been true. Poster #487 thought these hints far too revealing, and wished there was option to unveil them one by one, for getting to see them all at once rendered the original problem meaningless.17 Poster #271 agreed, commenting how Hint 1 alone practically gave away the answer, paraphrasing as it did Shinx’ Diamond & Pearl Pokédex entries.18 Not that the leaking of these hints stopped Club Members from pranking the 2channel board: in a running gag, they maintained that the answer must be Delta Species (δ) Starly. “It’s amazing that everyone has an electric type Starly that shines when it gets into a pinch,” one said tongue-in-cheek (#314). Delta Species δStarly are quite rare, another added (#393).

In any case, with the depositable Pokémon unambiguous to everyone but the most gullible, the GTS exchange party got started on March 28. This time, staff clearly were doing trades over the weekend, and in a swift operation 2ch made short work of mapping the Shinx OTNs. By 4PM on Sunday March 29th, the board had successfully identified Shin (シン), RuiRui (るいるい) and Mataan (まーたん) Shinx.19 Three hours later, posts #958 and #962 both reported a Keiichi (ケイイチ) Shinx holding Tunnel Mail, completing the quartet, even if mild uncertainty over the authenticity of Mataan and Keiichi continued into Monday.20 Throughout the campaign week, many different participants in the GTS09 distributions uploaded images of the Pokémon they received to an image-hosting website called imepita.jp. Agonisingly, that site is (long) gone.

The 2channel chronology suggests that the Daisuki Club released their Shinx’ specifics around 6PM on Friday April 3. Poster #731 took the opportunity to push the running joke to its natural conclusion, exclaiming in feigned surprise: “It’s not a Starly!” Yeah. As before, that “Pkmnsz” blogger dutifully shared Shinx’ technical details to his website, even though he didn’t get to participate very actively (exchanging only 10 Shinx):

①おやの名前とIDNo.
シン [Shin]:42356
ケイイチ [Keiichi]:58125
るいるい [RuiRui]:30994
まーたん [Mataan]:61848

Balto was in the mix too trying to secure a Daisuki Shinx, but didn’t strike it lucky, getting no further than a repurposed Pokémon (or possibly mimic edit) holding fake Mail. How could he have known the Mail was counterfeit? Well, all Daisuki messages followed a predictable format that remained unchanged across Bidoof, Shinx, and Mystery Pokémon #3, and it was long public by this time. Presumably Balto’s Mail either followed the wrong set phrases, or contained keywords that weren’t exclusively Pokémon names. That said, there’s no evidence that the Shinx distribution was subject to an organised mimicry campaign. Shinx on the whole commanded less attentive discussion than Bidoof had, and among those with an abiding interest in the event, a collaborative spirit prevailed. The 2channel board made few to no reports of explicit mimic hacks.

…A fact that, my friends, was soon about to change.

GTS RALTS: April 4-10, 2009

Did you know? Ralts is called rarutosu (ラルトス) in Japanese. There’s a reason why I’m telling you this: the four characters that make up Ralts’ name were essential to the wordplay puzzle that the Daisuki Club cooked up for Mystery Pokémon #3. It worked as follows. Three (or perhaps four) clues were given. Each referenced a specific Pokémon, and if the names of these Pokémon were arranged and read back a certain way – vertically, according to one 2channeler – they would combine to spell ラルトス: Ralts. I would show you the original puzzle image if I could, but it does not survive, so you’ll have to make do with this somewhat abstract description.

The puzzle’s Pokémon in question were:
ラプラス: Lapras
ルカリオ: Lucario
ラブカス: Lovedisc
…And possibly one more.21 Lapras, Lovedisc and Lucario contain within them the characters “ラ”, “ル” and “ス”, and can be configured (aligned?) to spell out three-fourths of Ralts, leaving just “ト”. This final character was apparently to be deduced from some clue involving Magikarp. The Club’s usual four puzzle hints – one for each Pokémon – bear witness to this. The first two (for Lucario and Luvdisc) were apparently a little on the nose and merited no discussion on 2channel. They all but gave away the answer, one user commented.22 Hints 3 & 4, on the other hand, were more cryptic and invited at least some debate.23 Hint 4 specifically said something about Magikarp in relation to the “ト” character. One messageboarder explained it partially,24 and the pkmnsz blog here teased readers about the solution. Both their comments exceed the extent of my Japanese. I would love to furnish you with the full Ralts hints, but unlike Bidoof and Shinx, we don’t have them.

(The official Pokémon-Times Twitter account recently ran a puzzle contest that appeared to follow similar principles. Massive thank you to ICanSnake for alerting me to this comparable challenge. Its Cradily solution image is enclosed.)

So, Ralts. As the contest’s first non-Route 202 Pokémon, the “Feeling Pokémon” was a little harder to obtain than Bidoof and Shinx. On Diamond & Pearl one needed the PokeRadar, which in turn necessitated filling out the National Dex. On Platinum it was more straightforward, as Routes 208 & 209 had Ralts at 15-20%. Thinking about it, the choice of Ralts may have been a small gesture towards those who had bought the Gen 4 definitive edition, so to speak. And Ralts did not appear in the Bidoof maze – was it a last-minute change from Starly? In any case, what should have been great conclusion to brilliant initiative took a slightly dark and disappointing turn.

It’s readily apparent that the Daisuki Club put a lot of energy into GTS09. There’s something soul-crushing, then, about uncovering and following a historical trail of destruction left by a handful of malicious individuals seeking to systemically disrupt and tarnish the experience of others. During the Ralts exchange, joke participation was increasingly less for-laughs, acquired an unpleasant undertone, and escalated to assume control of the narrative. No more were 2channelers’ reports of humorous or questionable Mail they sent or received; instead, hundreds of posts reveal a continual cat-and-mouse game between a group of participants eager to identify and win authentic Ralts, and a subset of individuals looking to derail the collation of information as much as possible, either because they could, or out of spite. To be recording Poke-conflict for posterity isn’t the direction I anticipated this project would take, but the story must be told.

Right. In explaining the swift rise of the partypooping crowd, growing from practically non-existent to hugely disruptive almost overnight, there’s a question of how, and a question of why. Let’s address the how first. By early April 2009, specimens of GTS Bidoof and Shinx had spread widely in trading circles. Thanks to third-party programs like Pokesav and DSPokeEdit, their (rather predictable) technical characteristics like SID, origin game and met date / location were an open secret. Since Shinx and Bidoof looked tremendously similar, it made logical sense that Ralts would follow their pattern, too. Spoilsports, then, had all the information required to put together perfect-looking imitation Ralts that, while holding accurate Mail, were “difficult to distinguish” from the real thing.25

Ah, but what about Ralts’ OTNs and TIDs, you ask? Surely nobody knew those in advance? Correct. But it took little imagination to work out what they might reasonably be. Daisuki staffers Nana, Uttsu and Norikku all previously had GTS events named after them and were obvious candidates to adopt a Ralts. Mind you, hackers didn’t needn’t their guesses to be accurate – they only had to fool everybody for a week. As it turned out, hackers got one out of three correct: the OTN Nana (ナナ) was indeed used as one of four authentic Ralts variants. Uttsu (ウッツー) and Norikku (のりっく) were not. Even so, these insidious fakes were sophisticated and accepted as legitimate until the Club’s post-event release of Ralts Trainer data proved that they couldn’t be.

Then there’s the why of widespread mimic editing and hacking. Personal factors were at work here. With a ratio of only 600 distributable Pokémon to tens of thousands of eager participants, it was inevitable that many ardent fans would be left empty-handed. By the time Ralts rolled around, it had become readily apparent just how miniscule were the chances of snagging an authentic Daisuki. From that realisation flowed profound disappointment, which turned to bitterness, then anger, and from there, some chose to vent their frustration by striking back. (Where have I seen this before, I wonder? Ah, yes. The misguided #bringbacknationaldex movement.)

Unlike GTS Bidoof and Shinx, which saw good-spirited interference at most, like-minded individuals now united in small groups that made concerted and committed efforts to circulate fakes. I don’t want to waste too much space publicising the logistics of disruption. However… An honourable mention goes out to one “Tororin” (とろりん), whose one-time base of operations was tracked down and identified as the source of many mimics.26 And I can’t not acknowledge the Pokémon guild led by one “taka3” (taka-san) that reinvented itself as a mimic hacker den for the duration of the event and, sources indicate, took a lot of pleasure in sending out fakes with OTNs such as Norikku. Apparently “taka” was a person of some renown within the Pokémon community, and posters in the Daisuki GTS threads invoked his name repeatedly like he were the boogeyman.27 His involvement lent a certain clinical professionalism to the hacking effort, creating an atmosphere of defeatism and causing the event to lose its trademark Daisuki-innocence. In the process, Daisuki GTS Thread #3 devolved into a discussion of the (il)legality of Pokémon editing tools, and whether Nintendo should take legal action against the developers and/or users of said tools. This debate made no-one happy. Much less fun was had all around, which was a great shame.

Of course, honest participants on 2channel did not stand idly by and tried to take countermeasures. Most notably, they encouraged one another to omit or censor certain characters from the Trainer names of suspected authentic Daisuki Ralts, so that hackers could not imitate them. Toshi (トシ) Ralts was thus presented as “ト○”, and Yunosuke (ゆのすけ) as ゆ○○け. As a side-effect, nobody was quite on the same page, complicating the collation of information. Initially, the strategy appeared to pay dividends as multiple variants fitting the “ゆ○○け” template began popping up, thus protecting the true OTN from mimic hacking. For a time, anyway.

Let’s take a quick look at GTS Threads #3 and #4 and observe these dynamics in action. Messages flowed fast within the first 24 hours, yet the only reports were of a Nana Ralts (#987), an unknown Ralts once upon a time identifiable via an uploaded image (#847), and an unspecified male Daisuki Ralts, its OTN held back as an anti-hacking measure (#960). There was also a hacked Nana with (we now know) the wrong TID of 20798 (versus 30730 for the real one); this was either lucky OTN shot, or it was modelled after a Nana Ralts reported on some other forum. All these Ralts had (heavily censored) images posted to imepita.jp, which closed in 2011.28

Throughout Saturday April 4, an abundance of reports was made of Uttsu Ralts, which was remarkable, for as stated before, OTN Uttsu ultimately turned out not to be included in the distribution. Clearly, somebody had already commenced their concerted effort to overload the trade system with fakes. Poster #66 in GTS Thread #429 got a convincing-looking Uttsu too, but when they input their TID and the contents of its Mail to the Daisuki website, predictably received an error message.30 Persistent reports of a “のり○○” Ralts floated about too, obviously inspired by the “Norikku” Garchomp from 2007’s mini-Daisuki distributions. These reports lasted well into Sunday afternoon (#190s), then Monday morning (#467), and finally Thursday (#664). It wasn’t until post #677, hours before the event ended, that somebody with know-how and genuine intentions concluded definitively that Norikku had to be a fake on account of it originating from Platinum, whereas all the other GTS09 hitherto had Diamond as their origin game. If GTS3 #706 is to be believed, it was Toro(rin) who made all of Uttsu, Norikku and Yurasuke – a fake ゆ○○け.31

How about other authentic Daisuki Ralts, then? Poster #52 (GTS4) was seemingly the first to report an official Ralts with an OTN other than Uttsu or Nana. Though he / she did not specify, it was likely Kakereru (かけれる), as the OTN was hinted to consist of a 4 character word Ralts ending in “る”. Then, around noon on Sunday (April 5), we find the first account of a “ト○” Ralts by GTS4 #115 – which we today know is トシ Ralts. Shortly after, around 1PM, poster #119 reported the first acquisition of a “ゆ○○○” Ralts, which can only have been Yunosuke (ゆのすけ). Like #115, he voiced concern about the Ralts’ authenticity, seeing as their had been no previous mentions of that particular OTN. Confusion reigned amidst mounting evidence of a fakes campaign that adapted continually to the latest information… Leading one poster to state dryly “I’m jealous of those who won the first day with Bidoof” (#261).32

The Club’s complete event ID diagram – elegant as ever.

But, if the Daisuki Club announced official TID/OTN combinations on April 10 anyway, then what was (and is) the big deal? Well, there’s two dimensions to it. Firstly, players were applying successfully for prizes with edited or outright fake Pokémon. How this could happen is more than a bit puzzling. The Daisuki application page most certainly did implement some degree of brute force protection. It asked contestants to input not only Mail keywords, but also provide the Mail type, the Pokémon that carried it as well as its Trainer ID (GTS1 #160 & #174).33 Even so, throughout Sunday April 5, participants claimed be to “successfully” completing the paperwork with fakes like Uttsu, Norikku and various renditions of Yu○○ke Ralts, getting past the Pokémon input screen and onto address confirmation. It seems unlikely that every one of these players lied, so either the system wasn’t watertight, or it malfunctioned. Worse, players most definitely applied successfully with a week’s worth of cloned, edited or hacked Nana Ralts. Since “Nana” was an actual distribution OTN, these participants couldn’t be certain whether they’d actually won until prizes did – or disappointingly did not – arrive on their doorsteps in the month of May. GTS4’s poster #215 put it rather well: “Just because you can apply does not necessarily mean [the Pokémon is] genuine.”3435

Secondly, there is the “long tail”. Toshi and Kakereru Ralts thankfully were not widely hacked. Nana and Yonusuke were. Courtesy of faithful reporting by pkmnsz, we know their proper TID/OTN combinations:

①おやの名前とIDNo.
トシ [Toshi]:48040
ナナ [Nana]:37030
かけれる [Kakereru]:54193
ゆのすけ [Yunosuke]:04652

Pkmnsz was unable to snag an authentic Daisuki, not for want of trying – see image! In any case: met location, met level, current level, Mail types – all these are known quantities and wholly uncontroversial, except for one small detail: met date. March 17th or March 18th, which is correct for Nana and Yunosuke? Toshi and Kakereru, alongside all of the GTS Bidoof and Shinx, have identical met dates of March 17. Not Nana and Yunosuke, which are split right down the middle. Which version is real, and which is the edit (or even hack)? This may seem insignificant, but the implications are tremendous. Over ten years on, it’s easy to assume that any Pokémon preserved with attached Mail must be authentic. But we have both March 17th and 18th Nana with correct-looking Mail. And this is not simply a conservation problem arising from small surviving numbers – the Japanese had a rough time working out in real-time which was the correct obtain date as the event was happening! Let me share just a taste of 2channel’s endless back-and-forth.

In the early afternoon of Sunday April 5th, GTS3 Poster #179 was first to clarify the obtain of his Yunosuke Ralts: March 18 (#183). Another messageboarder (#185) immediately concluded that it must be a fake for all authentic GTS09 had hitherto had obtain dates of March 17. Poster #235’s Yunosuke also showed an obtain date of March 18, yet poster #247’s was March 17. For every user who observed their March 18 variant was a definite fake (#257 with 6IV, #278, or #281 with a SID of “9999”), there was another who claimed otherwise. Poster #295 finally shared an image showing a March 17 Yunosuke Ralts, but unhelpfully its current level was wrong: *7* (Nana’s level), not the expected *8*.36 One blogger took to compiling a public list of Ralts while event was ongoing (poster #375 referenced it as located here); its Nana Ralts showed an obtain date of March 18. After a multi-day lull, on Thursday April 9, the subject was brought up again (GTS3, #645-648). This blogger shared images of three (!) received March 17 Nana Ralts they themselves considered counterfeit. It’s likely that at this point, edited Nana and Yunosuke Ralts outnumbered their official counterparts, putting the situation dangerously close to the point of no return.

Debate continued sparsely through to April 14, then petered out until revived in the month of May, when the competition prizes began arriving in winners’ mailboxes. From a data collation viewpoint, this was the final chance to dot i’s, cross t’s, and escape the met-date merry-go-round. Some victors reported back, and gave Yunosuke the break it needed. Poster #131 (GTS#4) took receipt of their second-tier prize, a Pikachu… thingy, in the middle of May. They had applied with a Lv.8, March 18 Yunosuke Ralts. Ditto for #171. They were “worried” their Lv.8, March 18 Yunosuke had been a “remodelling”, but clearly it was the real deal: a Pikathing arrived in their mailbox on May 19. This, then, at least settled the matters of Yunosuke’s current level and met date. But what of Nana? No winners came forward.

As we’ve seen, conflicting information precluded firm conclusions during the event, and a want of unique characteristics in all Daisuki GTS Pokémon was (and is) a blow against post-hoc analytics. However, looking at the bigger picture, there’s no immediate reason why authentic Nana Ralts couldn’t be a combination of March 17 and March 18 specimens. Six hundred Pokémon was healthy number for the Daisuki Club; perhaps staff couldn’t finish this task on March 17 when initially preparing the event, and had their distribution device spit out final few the following day. It is, in the grand scheme of GTS09, but a tiny detail. And it would (and should!) have remained trivial, if it weren’t for the widespread mimic hacking and editing that plagued the Ralts event. The Nana case is still is not fully closed, and may never be.

Which brings me to that other long tail: the open-ended vanishing of the Daisuki GTS format.

CLOSING THOUGHTS
Why was the global trade system Daisuki staff exchange format retired, never to be seen again? I’ve thought about this question a lot the past few months. Despite devouring all the topical historical material I could find, I’m still not sure of the answer. I can think of a few theories why GTS09 was the Daisuki swan song; these notions are not mutually exclusive, rather, they’re complementary. (What ever is monocasual?)

Image credit: Lifeofpokemon

For one thing, the format was easily manipulable – too easily. GTS Ralts painfully illustrated how a tiny group of ill-willed individuals could have a disproportionate negative influence on the experience of others. For a time, the sincere vs insincere debate dominated the discourse on 2channel, hardly how I imagine the Daisuki Club hoped their free-to-participate, prize-packed shindig would go. Faux-successful applications courtesy of convincing fakes and clones can only have led to many disappointed, crestfallen children who thought they’d have an exclusive Daisuki prize coming their way. (Congratulations to this double-winner blogger, their Ori Bidoof and Nana Ralts came through for them!) How aware would the Daisuki Club have been of all this? I’m not sure. The duplicate and overly numerous applications would certainly have driven home the need for format optimisation, if it was to be repeated.

Then there was, I think, the increasing liability of the format’s free-ish messaging aspect. Within the pre-set scope of the EasyChat system, players could entrust whatever they wanted to digital Mail, attach it to a Pokémon, and send it into the aether. These messages could range from delightful and charming (Balto preserved some whimsy!) to whatever innuendo one could dream up with in-game moves like Harden. To be sure, this wouldn’t at all be a problem if the audience consisted solely of adults. But this was kid’s fanclub inside of a (mostly) kid’s franchise. Particularly in recent years, TPC have been meticulous about the integrity of its public image and keen to control the tenor of people’s experiences. There did not, and does not, need to happen some questionable case of free writing magnified on social media for it to count against the GTS exchange format; the possibility of it happening is sufficient reason alone to make a Mail-exchange format revival unlikely.

Or maybe in considering these factors, I’m presenting the finest case of teleology, reading backwards to identify supposed reasons that were never influential. With the dawn of Gen 5, the Daisuki Club ceded ground at the forefront of the fan experience; perhaps the GTS format simply died a quiet death for no reason other than its parent body shedding influence. It’s possible. Hopefully we’ll find out for certain one day, when I get to covering the Pokémon Black & White’s Dream World, which is an expansive subject all unto its own.


Last Updated: November 9, 2020

  1.  The one-time Daisuki Link was: http://www.pokemon.jp/portal/member/platina/koukan
  2.  Image credit to weblog “青の透明”, March 24 2009: https://blog.goo.ne.jp/putiputin/e/cf3af6d45528d4dfc32cfedf8e490f56
  3.  “だいすきクラブ、ヒント3を直しやがった”, Daisuki Thread #33 (ポケモンだいすきクラブ33), Poster 434; and “確かにヒントが変わってるね。昨日のヒントではひとつとばしのうずまき、修正されたヒントではそのままうずまきなので”, Poster 437, both at: https://5ch-ranking.com/cache/view/poke/1233075847
  4.  Poster #340, “ポケモンだいすきクラブ33”, see: https://5ch-ranking.com/cache/view/poke/1233075847
  5.  Poster #439, Daisuki Thread #33.
  6.  In post #284.
  7.   Later confirmed to Tunnel Mail, see #343.
  8.   Interestingly, the blogger revealed the three Pokémon sprites that appeared at the bottom of (his) Ari’s Mail to be Bidoof, Bidoof, and surprisingly, Eevee. These sprites reflect the first three Pokémon in the player’s party at the time a Mail is written, meaning the save file used to write Ari’s Mails somehow had an Eevee. Eevee is not easy to come by in DPPt (unless the GTS was used), suggesting Ari’s gamecart may have been his private copy, or at least a personal office copy.
  9.  Clarified in Post #342.
  10.  Ori may have been a customer service agent. Wrote #328: “その「おり」って人、前にとくべつなおきゃくさまの時にいたスタッフじゃないか?”. And #329: “「おり」って確かいつだかの特別なお客様の時のキャラじゃないか”
  11.  See: “ポケモンだいすきクラブ34”, at:
    https://5ch-ranking.com/cache/view/poke/1237709567
  12.  Daisuki Thread #34, Post #937.
  13.  Daisuki #34, Posters #926 and #930.
  14.  Daisuki #34, Post #922.
  15.  【GTS】だいすきクラブ挑戦状【Wi-Fi】その1″, hereafter “GTS #1”, at: https://5ch-ranking.com/cache/view/poke/1238046574
  16.  Partially corroborated by Poster #387.
  17.  “ヒントは少しづつ公開してけばいいのにな. いきなりヒント全部みれたら問題の意味ないし.”
  18.  Which state that Shinx “glows when in trouble” and how “its body shines if endangered”.
  19.  GTS#1, Post #916.
  20.  Posts #205-210, “ポケモンだいすきクラブからの挑戦状 その2”, hereafter “GTS #2”, at: https://5ch-ranking.com/cache/view/poke/1238248922
  21.  Post #944 in: ポケモンだいすきクラブからの挑戦状 その3″, hereafter “GTS #3”, at: https://5ch-ranking.com/cache/view/poke/1238766199
  22.  “ヒント1,2みりゃ楽勝だろ法則も”, GTS#2, #734.
  23.  “ヒント3と4てなんだった?永遠と1,2ループでみれねぇ. 答え分かったけど法則がよく分からん.” GTS#2, #733.
  24.  “コイキングはヒント4にコイキングのことがかいてあるよ. って意味だと思っていたけど.” GTS#3 #840.
  25.  GTS#3 #866.
  26.  Links variously given as http://www.freebbs.biz/patio.cgi?user=sadakazu; and http://www.freebbs.biz/patio/patio.cgi?mode=view&no=41&user=sadakazu
  27.  The guild may have operated from this thread: http://www.1.pokemon-style.com/wifi2/patio.cgi?mode=view&no=40909
  28.  Unspecified male Ralts (#960) http://imepita.jp/20090404/657290; Nana Ralts (#987); http://imepita.jp/20090404/734950; Unknown Ralts (#847); http://imepita.jp/20090404/489020
  29.  “ポケモンだいすきクラブからの挑戦状 その4”, hereafter: GTS#4, at:https://5ch-ranking.com/cache/view/poke/1239535058
  30.  『こうかんしたポケモン』
  31.  “悪質改造のウッツー のりっく ゆうすけを作ったのはとろ○んだよ。”
  32.  Shout-out to messager #141 who somehow correctly identified Yunosuke, Kakereru and Toshi as authentic IDs, missing only widely-hacked Nana.
  33.  See also the official Pokémon.jp announcement, at: https://web.archive.org/web/20090315001403/https://www.pokemon.co.jp/info/game/g090313_08.html. “【応募方法】
    だいすきクラブの企画サイト内で、交換したポケモン名、交換したポケモンの持っていたメールのしゅるい、メールの文面、トレーナーIDを入力し、ご応募ください。”
  34.  応募出来たからといって本物とは限らない”.
  35.  More broadly, the Daisuki Club alone could track what Ralts had been sent to whom, and match this information against the applications that came through. Players had no tools at their disposal to verify the origins of their Bidoof, Shinx and Ralts. The Generation 4 GTS allowed Pokémon senders to view recipient details, but recipients were (and are) unable to see sender details. More so, winners were not notified separately at any part of the process; rather, participants were told upfront, all the way back in March, to simply be on the lookout for a present by post in early May if they’d applied successfully.
  36.  Long gone: http://imepita.jp/20090405/610060